From the Heart

Love Is… Playing Mario Party

I’ve never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day. Not because I’m upset about not having a “significant other” with which to celebrate. In fact, each year that goes by, I’m reminded that I have many significant others in my life whom I love dearly and who mean the world to me. Friends I can call when I’m happy and want to celebrate and friends I can call when I’m upset and just need to vent. The real reason I’ve never been a huge fan is because I believe people need to be loved not just when we’re told to love them, but also when life is messy and we don’t want to.

Typically, loving people near me looks like this:

  • I call them to see how their week is going and let them know I care
  • I leave a care package at their door when they’re having a bad week
  • I write them a letter letting them know I appreciate who they are

These are fun ways to love people. I enjoy these ways, and they bring me life. Today, I was reminded that loving people isn’t always fun. It’s not always enjoyable. But it is always necessary.

Today, a dear friend of mine was deeply hurt- hurt in a way that I hope no one would have to be. She woke up and didn’t remember the night before. Not because she had too much to drink or because she was being irresponsible, but because someone else wanted to hurt her.

Today, loving her was hard. It hurt. I wanted to leave. I wanted it to not be messy. But life is sometimes messy, and people are sometimes messy. It’s in those moments when life is messy, when you find out what your love is truly made of. It’s in those moments where you choose to dig deep and love anyway that true significant others are made.

“Our lives are made up of small choices.” You hear it all the time, but what does that really mean? It means that when you don’t want to go to the hospital and sit in a waiting room just to be there when your friend gets out, you go. It means when the lies are piling on that it’s her fault, you speak truth and remind her it’s not. It means crying with her when she has to make that phone call to her parents and tell them what happened. It means sharing in her pain and reminding her there’s hope.

Because there is hope. There is a tomorrow, and it can be better than today. We all have a choice to make, and we make it every day. When life gets messy, do we choose to turn the other direction and pretend everything is okay? OR do we choose to get in the mess? Yes, the mess hurts and yes, you can get messy yourself in the process, but it’s worth it.

It’s when we choose to get messy with those around us that life starts to make sense again. It’s then that we realize we’re not alone, nor are we created to be alone. When we realize that we have people surrounding us that need to feel the love of Christ in a tangible way, and we are what makes that happen. His love that covers our shame. His love that washes away the pain of yesterday. His love that reminds us that we are beautiful, beloved, and wanted. His love that gives us strength in the midst of the mess. It’s our choice whether we get to be that love to the people around us. Whether we get into the mess or not.

Yes, loving people can sometimes be fun. But today, loving people near me looked like this:

  • I made a warm drink hoping to ease some of the hurt
  • I sprinkled baking soda on the carpet to erase the stains of the past
  • I played two hours of Mario Party to help life seem like it wasn’t so bad

It hurt. I wanted to leave. But I didn’t. I stayed and played Mario Party, and I am better for it.

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